Sunday, November 28, 2010

Western Vacation 2010 Day Four: September 6

This is the log of my western vacation in September 2010. Some of my own photographs are included and some from Wikipedia.

This morning we took a float trip on the Snake River with the Triangle X Ranch. They do a good job in coordinating the trip and providing the gear and a knowledgeable guide. Except for a small cloud which covered the peak of Grand Teton itself, we had perfect cool weather. This bald eagle was the only animal we saw though. We met folks from Virginia and Carlisle, PA on the raft.

Now after we ate our leftover lunch in Jackson Hole, it was time to head north to Yellowstone. It takes a long time to get around GTNP when you leave from Jackson - the lake is long. Once you get past the lake, you start to climb up to the divide which runs through southern Yellowstone.

In southern Yellowstone, we saw vast pine forests damaged by the great fires of a few years ago. There's a large gorge right next to the road on the way in (Snake River), and a waterfall coming out of Lewis Lake. The lakes in Yellowstone are very large. We also saw the first of many bison grazing in the woods and fields.

We took the Grand Loop Road to the west at West Thumb (on the big lake), and stopped at Old Faithful. We saw an eruption about 10 minutes after we arrived.

The rest of the day we drove north on the Grand Loop Road from Old Faithful to Madison Junction, then Norris Junction, then finally to Mammoth, where we stayed. Most of the thermal areas in the park are along this stretch, visible from the highway. They look like Pennsylvania strippings with steam rising from them. The Firehole River parallels the road through some of this stretch too, and many people were fishing there.

After dinner at the fast-food restaurant in Mammoth, Dad and I tried fishing in the Lower Gardner River below Mammoth, but didn't have any luck. We did see some deer there though. This let us cross the border into Montana for the first time on the trip, as well.

We stayed in a rustic one-room cabin for the rest of our time in Yellowstone. It was small, but comfortable (once we got the heater working), and the public bathrooms were right behind our unit. There's a rather sizable village in Mammoth with several restaurants, the large Hotel, a post office, and many other buildings. The elk are pretty tame, and lay around throughout the day in the public areas.

We could hear the elk through the night bugling in the hills. Quite an eerie sound. I took a walk in those hills after dark, just to stretch my legs.

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